India is one of the most experienced countries in the region in conducting hydrographic surveys, the country said on Thursday, after the Mohamed Muizzu administration decided not to proceed with the hydrography agreement signed, during the Ibrahim Mohamed Solih administration, with India to survey the seas of the Maldives.

The Muizzu administration confirmed the cancellation during a press conference held at the President’s Office on 14 December, where it outlined that the agreement, set to expire on 4 June 2024, would have been subject to immediate renewal for another five-year term unless notice was given.

During a press conference held at India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday, a Times Now journalist asked for India’s views on the decision. However, the MEA declined to answer the question directly, alternatively stating that India has a track record in conducting hydrography surveys. Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi noted that India is cooperating with many countries in the Indian Ocean in various matters related to the region.

India has a proven track record in the field of hydrography and we have also been cooperating with many countries in the Indian Ocean on hydrography and various elements related to that. The benefits to partner countries are visible and I would like to just leave it at that.

Arindam Bagchi, Spokesperson at India’s Ministry of External Affairs sidestepping press queries on Maldives’ cancellation of the Hydrography Survey agreement between India and the Maldives.

Both nations would have had the opportunity to take financial advantage of the oceanographic knowledge drawn from carrying out the hydrographic surveys. However, by all appearances India stands to benefit more in terms of royalties — a 35 percent commission is drawn by the Maldives for sales of such information to Maldivian interests, with a 25 percent commission drawn should India sell to foreign interests.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was initially signed on 8 June 2019 during an official visit to the Maldives by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Subsequently, an Indian delegation arrived in the Maldives on 26 September 2019 to conduct the first Joint Committee meeting, and the Maldives Hydrographic Service was established on 7 March 2022.

The Maldives, for the first time, participated as an observer in the 20th North Indian Ocean Hydrographic Commission meeting in July 2021.

The Hydrography Agreement had continued to draw strong criticism, starting during the Solih administration, from the then opposition, which is now in government.